Can a Parliamentary vote be non binding?

 

      I am intrigued by the new doctrine of the non binding vote.  As far as I am concerned, a vote in Parliament is a vote in Parliament. It results in whatever action or expression of opinion is contained in the motion approved. As sensible Ministers accepted yesterday morning, Parliament had expressed a view and the government has to live with that result.

      It is true that Mr Reckless’s amendment did not simply  instruct the government to negotiate a cut in the EU budget. It did however call on  the government to seek a real terms cut. It did not specify how large the cut should be nor how the government should try to negotiate it. That was sensibly left to the government to determine, as Mr Reckless was not seeking to oppose the government but to strengthen its negotiating hand. The actual words approved were ” so calls on the government to strengthen its stance so that the next MFF (financial framework) is reduced in real terms”.

        The government can scarcely argue now that just seeking a real terms freeze is sufficient response to the motion as passed. Parliament’s will was clear. It wishes the government to seek a real terms cut. That is exactly what the government should do.  The government put its case as to why it should not seek a cut, and lost the vote.

     The government cannot argue that there was something unclear about the amendment, nor can they say Parliament failed to express its view with sufficient numbers. 601 MPs  voted, an unusually large number. All were whipped to do so. 13 Conservatives abstained. 9 of those abstained on principle, because they did not agree with either the government or the amendment, or perhaps did not wish to vote with Labour on the amendment whilst agreeing with it. 4 were granted leave of absence. Doubtless some members of other parties were also away on approved duties  or ill. A rerun is unlikely to produce a different result or many more voting.

         The government should now draft a new budget proposal which results in a real terms cut. They should then seek to win over other member states to their view. Sweden is already working on cuts to the budget.  Germany is not keen to see spending going up.

          There is another reason why the government should seek to do as Parliament advises. If the government does at some stage agree a budget and a framework with the rest of the EU, it will need Parliamentary approval for the expenditure that entails.  If Parliament is satisfied the government tried its best to get a real terms cut, Parliament may  vote for the money. If Parliament thinks the government did not try or does not like the outcome, Parliament can refuse to sign the cheques, leaving the government without the means to implement its promises to the EU. At some stage the government will need a very binding vote, a vote to approve spending. That is when government and Parliament had best agree. Ministers cannot take for granted the voting of extra spending for the EU after the vote this week. They need to explain that to the rest of the EU. They also need to reassure Parliament that we should vote for the final outcome, because they have done their best to get a deal Parliament regards as acceptable in the circumstances.

 

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117 Comments

  1. Mr. Frost
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Well said John.

    However, if (when) they come back to Parliament with an increase for approval, they will get it as Labour will not miss the opportunity to (1) progress with the EU project that they support and (2) embarrass the PM and capitalise on the dissenting anti-EU Tories.

    I will be amazed if Cameron comes back with a cut. This is his final test for many…

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I think he knows it now too, I see that even Dame Helen Ghosh is taking a swipe at him. A bit rich bearing in mind that she got the Permanent Secretary job at the Home Office under his government……

      zorro

  2. Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    This seems a continuation of the Blairite strategy of sidelining Parliament. Are Cameron and Clegg hell-bent on finding out how far they can push people before we push back?

    • John Fitzgerald
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      But how would we push back? I believe that is impossible whilst the political classes do not listen to the people they are supposed to be representing!

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    As I see it as a foreigner (haven’t seen your debate), your government is bound to try and achieve what parliament asks. That is not bad and may even strengthen its negotiation hand. All the same it will not succeed in a direct way, but . . . it may be able to get something else in return if it plays its hand cleverly. That is all in the game in a process of give and take. Overestimating the by now deflated power of a straight UK veto would not be clever in my view.

  4. Freeborn John
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    If the government believes a real-terms cut is unlikely why do they not try to negiotiate a combination of real-terms freeze plus repatriation of some powers? For years Cameron/Hague said that the 7-year budget was the chance to exert real leverage to get powers back but now the chance has come around appear once again to being wasting it while diverting public attention with a phoney war about freeze-vs-small-cut. Cameron should tell Merkel he will not veto the EU budget if there is a real-terms freeze and a public commitment from her to help Britain repatriate powers in the new EU treaty she is seeking.

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      There is no possibility of a return of powers, that deceit/sham by Cameron should be put to bed. As for a competency list, this was tried by Major to convince his Eurosceptic MPs that he might be able to something- you know, a promise of tomorrow if they stick with him, we want to be at the head table, we want to influence and all those lines of deceit. QMV does not allow for this and the treaties are clear that you cannot take back what you have given. Cameron knows it, he is conning his MPs to keep them quiet. Unsurprisingly Cameron is trying to reinvent the wheel because he does not have any other ideas as they have all been tried before.

      The fear is that “The Project” could be at risk. All the Europhile MPs of every political colour will do and say whatever they can to keep the UK in the EU and become a region of the EU superstate. There is no beneficial reason for the UK to remain in the EU. Unfortunately for Cameron, Clegg and chums it is becoming clear to most of the public. Vote UKIP to get a fresh change in politics.

      • zorro
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, the Clegglet has spoken so Cast Elastic must listen to him…..No repatriation of powers and no cutting of EU budgets….Oh well, it keeps it simple, he will have to offer an in/out referendum as he will get nothing back from the EU….Of course, he will not do so, but then he won’t be in office anyway.

        zorro

    • Timaction
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      There will never be a repatriation of powers as there is NO mechanism to do so. Whilst I support Mr Redwoods ideas on Parliamentary democracy instructing the Government I am sure it will be ignored by the current Europhile leadership. Mr Cameron is reported as being a Europhile whilst on the Continent and a sceptic when he returns to England. This was recently reported by the Czech President and is seen by his actions NOT weasil words.
      The public don’t want a reduction in EU aid we can’t afford or repatriation of powers, we want OUT. Nothing less will do. The lying leading politicians have got us into this mess by their constant lies and spin with incremental treaty stealth over many years. Now we want out. The will of the people are far more importasnt than the 650 who simply rubber stamp the 70-80% of EU law in Parliament.

  5. Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Quite obviously so, I am surprised it has to be so fully and carefully spelt out. As I wrote yesterday on my own blog post on the topic:

    “Coalition Cabinet Ministers should heed the voices of the elected representatives of the people of Britain, who after years of submission have finally broken the shackles of whipped fear and favour and spoken loudly for the oppressed.”

  6. alan jutson
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Its amazing that governments seem to be able to be selective on what a vote stands for.

    Democracy in action ???

    Democracy my arse !

    When oh when, are politicians (of all Party’s) going to wake up and smell the bacon.

    For years we have suffered marginal votes against the public interest on a whole host of policies, but been told its democracy, even if a three line whip has been used.

    Now the government has lost a motion, we get excuse, after excuse, after excuse.

    I listened to Mr Clegg on the radio yesterday morning, what a farce.
    I would suggest that this man is clearly deluded with all things EU, but then he is going to get an EU pension if he does not rock the EU boat.

    I simply do not understand why Cameron cannot see that this vote STRENGTHENS HIS NEGOTIATING POSITION.

    Mr Cameron seems adrift from public opinion at the moment, yes Labour were perhaps playing party politics (as their recent European record is disgracefull) but if they pledge an in out referendum at the next general election, some of us may take a long hard look at who we vote for, even if we have to hold our nose to do so.

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      As I mentioned the other day, it does strengthen his bottom line, but he doesn’t really believe in it.

      zorro

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      No holding of the nose. There is a cigarette paper of difference between them. There is nothing to fear, pure incompetence integrated in all main stream political parties. Parliament is a polyarchy.

      Clarke made it clear, again, on the BBC that yesterday’s vote meant nothing. Says it all about what he feels about democracy, he is EU through and through. No doubt kept on by Cameron to beat the EU drum. If this is not a reason why voters should leave the Tory party I do not know what is. Wake up, vote UKIP.

      If Galloway can get a parliamentary seat from London it should be a reminder to all of us that we can use our vote to stop this corrupt nonsense.

  7. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    To ignore the expressed will of Parliament because some Government ministers did not like the outcome is to undermine the very fabric of democracy in this country.

    I do not own a copy of Erskine May but surely there must be something in it somewhere, regarding sanctions against a Prime Minister who flagrantly disregards the expressed will of the British people as expressed via their MPs. Assuming that Mr Cameron does such a thing during the negotiations of course.

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      They do it every day. Look at the letter from Cameron about his stance on gay marriage. What a twist of reality if ever there was. Poll after poll want gay marriage he claims. It is a minority issue with a low minority of people who want it.

      Where was it in his manifesto, or the Lib Dems? Where is it in the coalition agreement? How about the online petitions against it? Like mass immigration, this is more about changing the UK culture so it is easier for EU integration. This example shows how Cameron and Clegg want to change our culture, customs and beliefs. If in doubt look at what Cameron said about wearing crosses in the work place and then watch UK government solicitors arguing the exact opposite at the ECHR to ban the wearing of crosses in the work place. Are they rogue solicitors acting contrary to their brief or is Cameron not telling the truth?

  8. Alex Powell
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Surely a return of the original rebate that Blair gave away would be the very minimum to expect seeing as there has been no reform of the CAP.

    That’s just a starting point and to my mind to even a cut as it shouldn’t have been given away in the first place.

    • outsider
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Dear Alex Powell, You make a fair point. I cannot see the rebate being formally reinstated but it should be possible to negotiate some discount for the UK on the grounds of no CAP reform so that our cash contributions do not rise.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Well the EU does have until 2014 to reform the CAP.

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 4:53 am | Permalink

        Surely every adult, other than Bliar, knows not to pay for things in advance of delivery, especially not to dodgy builders and similar corrupt organisations like the EU?

  9. Pete the Bike
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Government ministers should not negotiate a cut. They should inform the EU that the amount we will pay will be reduced. Britain is a sovereign nation with at least the pretense of democracy. The EU is a bunch of self appointed bureaucrats with zero democratic or moral legitimacy. To be dictated to by these people simply because previous governments gave away our sovereignty (which was not theirs to give) is an outrage. To paraphrase Nigel Farage- Who the hell do they think they are?

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, 40% of the EU budget goes on that wasteful CAP which bucks the market. There is money which could be saved, but the French would veto it straightaway.

      zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Actually most of the people that govern the EU were elected from the various member states, so they do have democratic legitimacy.

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        How do you work that one out?

      • Peter Brown
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Wrong. The Commissioners are Government appointees.

  10. Alte Fritz
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Listening to news reports on this yesterday was instructive.

    On PM a Polish MEP said that a rising budget was a contractual obligation. We should pay up for all the benefits we gain from the single market. I think Adam Holloway MP fell off his chair laughing.

    On Newsnight, a German journalist agreed with Peter Oborne that the vote matched the mood of people in Germany and, presumably, in other countries.

    On This Week, looking at the bigger picture, there was a strongish view that the all party establishment would not let an in out vote happen.

    From the viewpoint of the man in the street, yes, all very interesting to see what the establishment does or does not want, but that pesky Euro crisis will just not go away and it is all to do with the misconceived Project.

  11. lifelogic
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    A mere, real terms, cut is not remotely enough. Cameron is however, very clearly, a pro EU, fake green, big state, Libdem at heart. This is clearly shown by his use of Heseltine, his appointment of Lord Patten and all his actions so far. As Miliband correctly said he is “weak abroad, weak at home – it’s John Major all over again.” and without even having Major’s excuse of stupidity. Also, he even lived through the appalling John Major disaster and saw it at close quarters. Did he learn nothing?

    He will surely cling on to power until his large defeat in 2015. Doubtless rewarded by a position in the EU.

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Spot on. Cameron has surrounded himself with pro EU political figures, including former Labour politicians to write policy issue reports for him. Clarke could, and should, have been sacked/retired at the reshuffle. He is there to beat the EU drum, it keeps the Lib Dems happy as well, it makes no other sense to keep him on. He makes statements against what Cameron says, yet Cameron does nothing for undermining his authority, why? I think Cameron deliberately turns a blind eye because is of like mind to pro European Clarke. Falling asleep at work should be good enough reason to sack him, no other business would tolerate it.

  12. Sue
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    “I am intrigued by the new doctrine of the non binding vote. As far as I am concerned, a vote in Parliament is a vote in Parliament” – Yes. So am I. So what was the point?

    Stupidly, I suppose, I thought our representatives had the last word. After all, this is SUPPOSED to be a democracy. Now, it seems as though our Dictator can ignore everyone and do what he likes. I didn’t sign up for this.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      One clearly cannot make a coherent argument, to show that the UK is, in any real sense, democratic.

      It would be like saying the voters were in total control of an oil tanker, when they were allowed, just once every five years to vote on suggesting the colour of the uniforms the crew might wear on Mondays. This after a massive BBC campaign, funded by their taxes, to push red uniforms and predicting calamity, were blue to be selected.

      • zorro
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        A very good analogy, I like the idea of the oil tanker, it shows the nature of detachment of government from real people….

        zorro

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      The fundamental problem with our democracy(sic) is, in my opinion, the party system and the new style of party leadership.
      Mr Blair became the first presidential style PM and both our party and the LibDems followed his lead.
      The current party leader, who also just happens to be PM, appears to believe it is his party to do with as he chooses. He appears to have only one opinion that counts: his own. He doesn’t seem to understand that being a party leader is a kind of caretaking job, where members allow someone to lead the party in the direction the members want until a new leader or custodian is given that power by the party members. Mr Cameron appears to be taking the party in a direction that very few “Conservatives” want him to.

      The presidential style PM then exercises the power to hire and fire and almost uses this power to ensure our elected reps, that are still ambitious and young enough to still have a career, will back him.
      When we look at the make up of the hardcore rebels, we appear to see that most are older or have already held high level posts. We also see younger, ambitious MPs, sickly backing the government’s line and my cynical side suspects that the only reason for them backing that line is to ensure they may still be in the running for a promotion: a kind of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

      We see people on here advocating voting for UKIP and for me, that does appear to be the natural home for real Conservatives whilst we have our current leader however, we also see people say that voting for UKIP will hand victory to Labour but, if many people do vote for another party such as UKIP, it could be argued that voting for Mr Cameron’s Conservative(sic) Party would have the same effect. We need a new system where the ordinary party members can hold the leadership to account. This used to be done at the party conference but, these are so sterile and stage managed now, that this is no longer possible.

      The way our so called Parliament and political system works ensures the status quo. I would like to see more independent MPs that are not shackled by the party machines. Sadly, the party system makes this as good as impossible.

      Our host is and has been a great local MP but, as I have asked him many times, how can I vote for him without effectively endorsing Mr Cameron? Fortunately for us in Wokingham, Mr Redwood is less likely to be bullied by the whips as he is unlikely to get a high ministerial role at this stage of his political career even though, I cannot think of anyone that would be a better and more qualified Chancellor than him.

      As you can tell, I am very cynical and disillusioned regarding our current political system and most within it.

      • alan jutson
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Cliff

        I agree with many of your points.

    • JimF
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      You did if you voted Tory as opposed to a party proposing referenda which would be binding, just like our friends in Switzerland. It’s called direct democracy, it works pretty well and UKIP are proposing it for the UK.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Sue, I think our venerable host is alluding to the breathtaking arrogance and contempt for the voice of Parliament that our PM shows. In years gone by , Pm’s knew that they were just another stepping stone..likely to become another footnote in history and acted accordingly. The trouble with David Cameron and his clique is that they believe they own the system and can do as they please unchecked.

      I don’t care that the PM was educated at Eton..but if the effect is that he believes he is some kind of superior being that knows better than everbody else he is unfit for office.
      There are too many commentators that have said ‘David Cameron doesn’t listen’. He is the most dangerous man in Britain in my view.

      • zorro
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        You are right there. I think that he hears people talking but does not listen to them very much. He has ignored a lot of wise counsel….

        zorro

  13. ChrisXP
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I get the feeling that, over the years, the act of voting—whether it be by MPs or ordinary people—is often meaningless. We’ve seen it with EU treaty referenda, we’ve seen it in local councils, in fact it is widespread. People vote but results are deemed “unimportant” or, in this recent issue, “non-binding”.
    What is the point of voting on anything, if authorities simply plug their ears and say “we hear what you say, but we aren’t going to do it”. I was once on a committee with a chairman who always ignored vote results and wilfully went ahead and did his own thing; eventually causing some considerable financial problems for the little organisation. It finally ended in revolt and the forced removal of said chairman.

  14. Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Who decided it was non-binding?
    That is the type of decision made by dictators who simply overrule a puppet parliament to do whatever they want. Is that what we’re moving towards?
    Cameron should go along to the EU and inform them that our Parliament has made a decision that our payments to the EU must be reduced and he has no option to do otherwise. By suggesting that the vote is non-binding, he has destroyed his negotiating position before he starts.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      The BBC of course. I’m sure that’s where I heard the expression first.

      Strange to think we had a civil war about this a few centuries ago. I thought Parliament had won and established that parliamentary decisions do indeed bind the executive. What a surprise, that Bolsheviks Broadcasting Communism don’t see the value of it. Can we assume the vote on the nonsensical climate change act is similarly non-binding?

      • sm
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Pity the BBC license fee is binding though?

        Dangerous very dangerous. Now how do you remove the executive and or make them personally liable (in all senses) for their actions which are contrary to parliaments will?

    • Posted November 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Of course the vote is binding – on this Parliament. It is only subsequent Parliaments that cannot be bound by the incumbent. But then Cameroon appears to sail with the wind, going whichever way will give him praise but forgetting the anger that builds up as a result.

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I seem to remember that the nature of parliamentary democracy implies government by consent. That has certainly been the historical function of Parliament. In 1640, Charles 1 recalled Parliament as he had run out of money. To raise money or endorse a war, they should gain the consent of the people’s elected representatives or face the consequences……(Jan 1649)…..

      The Parliament Act 1911 ensured that the unelected HoL could not frustrate the will of the Commons in financial matters. The other day we had a vote of the elected representatives who said no to any further increase in the EU budget, so Cameron must listen and act or his legitimacy evaporates.

      Why must the EU budget rise but we have to suffer cuts in our national budget….all for an organisation with some highly qualified annual audits!

      I smell blood, and think hat this is an opportunity to finally flush out Cast Elastic…..and the sooner the better.

      zorro

      • zorro
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        What gives him the right to say which votes in Parliament are not binding?

        zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      The decision is not binding because it cannot be enforced in a court of law.

      • zorro
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Oh I see……so no vote in Parliament is binding because it cannot be enforced in a court of law……thank you for that bit of advice Mr Barroso!

        zorro

      • Sebastian Weetabix
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        What utter, utter rubbish. You clearly do not understand that parliament is sovereign.

    • Excalibur
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

  15. Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Sadly Parliament is becoming redundant, you MP’s will be getting your P45’s soon and a letter saying how much the civil service and the Brussels’ bureaucracy appreciates your work, but now feel inclined to carry on the struggle without you.

    Mr Reckless could, of course, added a clause saying that it would be binding on government, shows a lack of stealth and imagination.

  16. Lord Blagger
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    So much for democracy.

    1. You won’t allow us a vote on any issue.

    2. Even when our ‘representatives’ vote no, you go and do the opposite.

    We’re not responsible for the mess. MPs and Peers are.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Indeed.

  17. REPay
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    An ever closer union requires an ever expanding budget. A regular money grab is part of the acquis communitaire. The EU’s lack of understanding in asking for more cash from semi-bankrupt voters and government beggars belief, but as an organization without a demos, we should not be surprised it cares so little about democracy.

    I am more surprised by the government ignoring parliament. Wait…heir to Blair, now that makes sense too!

    I

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Perfectly sensible, but why do I think that Cameron has no intention of trying to get a real terms cut? Simple really, he could have had a 100% backing for just that from Parliament if he had not oppossed the amendment which actually called for such a reduction. Everyone knows that he will accept an inflation increase. When he comes back having failed to achieve what Parliament instructed, the Coalition will vote for whatever it is because deep down they prefer to play partisan politics. Parliament may well have embarked on a journey to re-establish its authority over the executive but I somehow doubt that MPs will keep their nerve.

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      What in the medium/long term do they have to lose?

      zorro

  19. Chris
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I am incomplete agreement with you, Mr Redwood. I wonder who initiated the release of this new approach. The first time I heard the term “non binding” used in respect of the EU budget vote was in a BBC report.

  20. Alan
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Just to deal with the constitutional point, isn’t the answer that it is non-binding because it is only an expression of the collective view of the House of Commons? The Commons does not have the authority by itself to instruct the government, although it can of course dismiss it by passing a vote of no confidence.

    To be binding it would have to be passed into public law – requiring the consent of the House of Lords and the Queen (who is obligated to take the advice of the Prime Minister).

    Reply: As this is a money matter only the Commons has authority

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – which moves us swiftly on to the etiquette of QE without express votes of approval from Parliament……

      zorro

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Correct.

  21. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It seems to me the coalition government should heed these wise words. The coalition partners have the excuse, if excuse be needed, that they are following the will of Parliament, which overrides all other considerations, such as manifesto promises and coalition agreements.

    When it comes to the meeting of the Council of Ministers it should be remember that everyone has a veto, and that some countries may wish to veto for a reason opposite to that of the UK. There are many and various ways in which the MFF will not be agreed.

    So the PM could find himself returning to the Commons have striven for a real terms cut but reporting the EU budget will have to be a carry-forward from the previous agreement. He may well think in such circumstances he has achieved a win-win result (for himself). Funny old game, politics.

  22. Prangwizard
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Not binding? If this is not binding then what other votes in parliament will he think are not binding? The man must go. Who are the anti-democrats behind him? All power to the parliamentary rebels. I’m with ‘Gerry Dorrian’. I’ve thought it before and I’ll think it again, who will be the first person to throw the first brick through the first window?

  23. oldtimer
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I presume that the term “non-binding” was uttered by a Downing Street spinner – or was it a minister? – trying to create wriggle room for a cornered PM. Very unimpressive.

    I was also struck by extracts I heard of Mr Clegg`s speech yesterday. In essence, the message I received was this:
    “Give up, there is no hope of a reduction in the budget, or the repatriation of powers. The UK is now trapped in the EU quicksands with no escape! The UK must pay more and more for the privilege of running a huge trade deficit with the rest of the EU, while having more and more alien concepts and cost showered on us all as QMV kicks in. The recipients of EU largesse outnumber the donors so the donors will always be outvoted. Give up! Surrender! Accept your fate! Remember the community spirit! It is in our national interest!”
    …and this from someone who calls himself the Deputy Prime Minister.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Clegg only seems energised when he is spouting on behalf of his EU masters. I feel sure he has been planted here, along with several others, to ensure that the EU coup d’etat proceeds with minimal resistance.

      • John Doran
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        Like Burgess, Philby, Maclean & Blunt.
        More in thrall to a new, vicious & unproven religion than they were respectful of our long tried, well tested & democratic nation.
        Time to start withdrawal negotiations.

  24. Martin Ryder
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The real question must be what do we the voters do about Cameron and Clegg’s refusal to listen to the will of Parliament. If this were a major left-wing issue the mobs would be on the streets waving placards and throwing things at the police. I don’t want to do any of that but were there to be a democracy march down Whitehall I would make my way up to London to join it.

    Please don’t reply: why don’t you organise one? Very few people could on a national scale and I am certainly not one of them.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I would be on the first available train to London. Why can’t the People’s Pledge people organise a march for an issue that has broad popular appeal ..how hard can it be ?.

    • oldtimer
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      There was a huge, well-0organised marcg by the Countryside Alliance at the time of the fox hunting bill. For their troubles, some of the marchers (were in dispute with-ed) by the police.

  25. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I note that in his post-vote sermon on the EU, Nick Clegg was adamant that there is no prospect of a repatriation to the UK of powers currently held by the EU. How does this affect Conservative policy?

  26. Acorn
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Under the Westminster parliamentary system, voting down a supply estimate, causing a “loss of supply”, would be the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in the government and a dissolution, surely? Are the Euro-sceptics up for that? Did someone tell Reckless to tone it down as he was about to walk into a minefield?

    The weaknesses in our parliamentary system become more apparent by the day. A vote by the Legislature is only a real vote, when it is to pass a government Bill. Otherwise they are purely advisory. After many centuries, we managed to separate the Judiciary from the Legislature by appointing a Lord Chief Justice outside of Parliament and a (sort of) Supreme Court. It still does not have a readable Constitution to protect but; it’s a start. Now all we have to do is get the Executive out of the Legislature and elect a Prime Minister who appoints his own Cabinet from citizens who actually know how to run things.

    PS. I recently forgot to include the UK Treasury version of the EU Version of the latter’s finances. http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/eu_finances_2012.pdf . Take your pick, you have no say in either of them.

    • Acorn
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      There is an excellent article at: http://www.bondvigilantes.com/blog/2012/11/02/us-income-inequalities-buffett-rules/ . Shows how the 1% have thrived since 1979, from the tax system in the US and UK. Remember the “global” financial, crisis as western politicians would have us believe, was made exclusively in the US and the UK. Everything else was contingent, including the poor Euro that never had a Daddy, (Treasury / Central Bank), to call its own. No spender of first resort; no lender of last resort.

  27. Phil
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I entirely agree with this sentiment. I assume that you would hold a similar view on all parliamentary votes, such as the Parliament’s recently expressed view that the badger cull should be entirely scrapped in favour of a more sustainable and humane solution…

    Reply: I am commenting tomorrow on Thursday backbench business votes, as this poses a different question.

  28. Neil Craig
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    The only way this could pass in Parliament would be if Mr Cameron did a deal with Labour to get them to support it (or abstain which would be effectively giving support). The idea of the Conservative party leadership conspiring with the Labour party against its own MPs may seem bizarre but I cannot entirely exclude the possibility Cameron would do it.

    “Parliament can refuse to sign the cheques, leaving the government without the means to implement its promises”

    This is reminiscent of the struggle between king and Parliament that preceded the civil war.

    • zorro
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      The government is currently implementing its largesse in a roundabout way via QE without even bothering to ask Parliament to sign a cheque……

      zorro

  29. Mike Wilson
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    ” As far as I am concerned, a vote in Parliament is a vote in Parliament.”

    Unless the politicians who vote are voting for party political purposes, not in the interests of the country.

    “Parliament’s will was clear.”

    Sorry, I try not to be rude on forums such as these but that is complete nonsense. The Labour party saw the opportunity to embarrass the government and took it.

    It has nothing to do with a high minded belief that ‘parliament’s will was clear.’

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes it does, it is a vote in Parliament…..The government were rather ill-advised not to realise what would happen (Why does that not surprise me)……

      zorro

  30. David Jarman
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Of course not. Otherwise that would be democracy and as we know that does not exist in the UK. A puppet (cameron) is going to do what he is told by his masters, that is why he ended up in the position he did. Look at the US now, 90% of Obama & Romney’s policies are the same because the puppet masters have pushed these 2 to the fore to give the illusion of choice. I mean, both are even related to the British royal bloodline. And people still dont get it. LOL

  31. NickW
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    It is up to Parliament to ensure that Cameron CANNOT consider the Parliamentary vote to be non- binding.

    Will the next General Election be considered a “Non binding vote” too?

    Ignoring Democratic votes when they don’t suit you is quintessentially European, and it shows that the Cameroons put the EU first and are perfectly willing to ignore their own Country’s interests..

    The EU Government is destroying Europe before our eyes; opposing it is not Eurosceptic, it is very much pro Europe, and is very much in the interests of the European people.

  32. DennisA
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Non binding vote was also used to describe the result of the badger debate where there was a very large majority against Government policy.

  33. Johnnydub
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Is it any surprise that Cameron until the last day or two was saying that he didn’t support the full rise but he’d accept an inflation linked rise. Seeing as this is what the EU can enforce on us through QMV if we veto the original proposal, isn’t this just a prima facie acknowledgement that the UK has no power.

    More importantly won’t this process prove that Clegg’s line that “we need to be in the EU to have influence over legislation” is just horse manure?

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes

      zorro

  34. Richard1
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Arn’t the Commission et al better off just saying no than agreeing an absoulte cut, as if there is no agreement the current deal (+ inflation) carries on? Question is how is it possible to get a real cut if the other countries wont agree and if a veto = an inflationary increase? Or isn’t this correct?

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      It will come to us refusing to pay any more (perhaps cutting too) into the EU budget, and let’s see what they threaten us with then……

      zorro

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    This is an excellent post and I agree with nearly all of it, but when you say “Germany is not keen to see spending go up.” that must be qualified.

    The German political elite, led by Frau Merkel (whose mentor, never forget, was Helmut Kohl), will be keen for EU spending to go up provided that it is a consequence of more power to the centre of the EU (and Germany). However, the Bundesbank and the German Electorate may be less keen. What is interesting is that the Christian Social Union (CSU), Frau Markel’s partners, are becoming less “pro-European”.

  36. JimF
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    So now you can see how far up the food chain our lack of real democracy goes!

    It might be the will of the people, and it might be the will of Parliament, but if it isn’t the will of the government then it can’t be enacted!

    What’s it like knowing that democracy doesn’t apply at the level of elected representatives of the people, but only the person elected to lead the elected representatives of the people and his chums?

    • A different Simon
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Jimf ,

      Was Cameron elected to lead the elected representatives or was he anointed in his late teens ?

      If so , who anointed him ?

      What about Blair and Obama ?

      “Democracy” , in modern terms , is a concept introduced by lenders to describe the principle whereby citizens of a country assume responsibility for the debts taken out by their leaders .

      It has nothing to do with the original Greek word . The elections nonsense is just a bit of theatre , a pretense .

      There is a ruling class and then there is the rest of us and the ruling class always win .

  37. Martin
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    If you are worried about binding votes perhaps you should have had a dummy run on Mr Hague’s stuffed snake. I suspect most of the public think that £10000 is bit expensive for a stuffed snake. I can also imagine the hoots of laughter at Mr Hague the next time his is lecturing the EU about budget cuts!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9145272/William-Hague-a-mysterious-bishop-and-the-10000-snake.html

  38. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It was interesting to hear the excuse that Cameron could not negotiate for a cut in the budget because it would be impossible to obtain. But John clearly explains why it would not be impossible: the government seeks parliamentary approval for a increased budget, they lose the vote, the EU gets paid nothing. I think you would find at that point all sorts of EU concessions would suddenly be offered by Brussels.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      More likely the EU would suspend the UK for non-payment, which would no doubt cause problems for the economy (loss of confidence, etc).

      • Richard
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        The economy of the EU I presume you mean

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Most unlikely; moreover as under the first step in the lengthy Article 7 TEU procedure it has to be determined that “there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2″, and as those values upon which the EU is supposedly founded include “democracy” and “the rule of law” it would be interesting to see who would be prepared to cast the first stone.

  39. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    During the debate on Wednesday evening Mark Reckless said, at Column 308 here:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121031/debtext/121031-0003.htm

    “Today we have an opportunity to debate and vote on the multiannual financial framework – the long-term budget. This comes round once every seven years. It requires unanimity among member states and primary legislation in this House to implement it.”

    And he twice repeated that it would need primary legislation, an Act of Parliament.

    I’m sure he’s right about the need for primary legislation; but I’d still like to know where that is written down, so that the government cannot legally sneak it through by secondary legislation, an Order, as they did for the increased contributions to the IMF.

    But he can’t be quite so right about “this comes round every seven years”, because the relevant treaty article, Article 312 TFEU, was a completely new article introduced through the Lisbon Treaty:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12007L/htm/C2007306EN.01004201.htm

    “261) The following new Chapter 2 and new Article 270a shall be inserted … ”

    270a later being renumbered as 312.

    Likewise a new Article 252a was inserted:

    “The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall consult each other and by common agreement make arrangements for their cooperation. To that end, they may, in compliance with the Treaties, conclude interinstitutional agreements which may be of a binding nature.”

    which is now Article 259 TFEU.

    On a quick search I can’t find the primary legislation to approve any previous EU seven year budget plan, or indeed to approve any EU annual budget; I expect that the latter must be there somewhere, sneaked into some Act or other, but what about the former?

    Nor on a quick search can I find when MPs approved the Interinstitutional Agreement of May 17th 2006:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:139:0001:0001:EN:PDF

    which decreed that the budget ceilings would automatically be inflation-proofed to the extent of 2% a year, at a time when the Lisbon Treaty had not come into force and so the treaty provisions which are now in Articles 259 and 312 TFEU did not form part of the EU treaties in force at that time.

    Which amending Lisbon Treaty was in any case repeatedly condemned by the present Foreign Secretary as having no democratic legitimacy in this country because the British people had been denied the promised referendum, and a future Conservative government “would not let matters rest there”, until on November 4th 2009 when Cameron announced that he would indeed let matters rest there.

    And as Article 312 TFEU is a new article, which only came into force on December 1st 2009, and there has not yet been any “regulation laying down the multiannual financial framework”, and so there is no framework under the terms of that new Article, how can “the ceilings and other provisions corresponding to the last year of that framework” be extended?

    Unless the government’s highly paid lawyers can come up with solid arguments to support the contention that the UK would be under a valid treaty obligation to allow the budget ceilings to be automatically inflated by 2% a year, I don’t see why MPs should have any compunction about refusing to authorise increased payments.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      While we are about it, because we didn’t have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty before signing it, we don’t need a referendum to withdraw from it. Ditto the Maastricht, Nice and Amsterdam Treaties.

  40. Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I see no point in holding a “vote” in the House of Commons by those we have taken the time to “vote for” if no notice is taken of that vote. What a waste of time, and a waste of time for the “tellers”.

    Does this apply to ALL votes in the Commons?

    Was this a ‘one off’?

    What is the point in electing anyone for the House of Commons if when they vote -one our behalf- there votes are ignored?

  41. outsider
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    D ear Mr Redwood,
    There are two elements that affect member states’ future contributions: the agreed increase (or non-increase) and the base level. Is the base level known and fixed, presumably at the level agreed for the last MFF? Or is it a moveable feast that can be manipulated in negotiation?
    I note, for instance that the Commission is haggling not just for a substantial budget rise for 2013, the last year of the current MFF, but also for a supplementary budget to meet bills it had not allowed for.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      But there is no current MFF under the terms of Article 312 TFEU.

      • outsider
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        @ Denis Cooper
        Which underlines the point that negotiators have to be just as careful about the base number as they are about any headline change or freeze.

        As you and others have noted before ( eg over bailouts), constitutional niceties are waived when it suits the EU leadership to do so. And, referring to Mr Redwood’s earlier post, the ECJ usually seems happy to go along with this or merely to require some paltry technical fix.

  42. Barbara Stevens
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Thank you again Mr R for explaining things in plain English for us who are not so aware of procedure in parliament. I’ve never heard of ‘non-binding’ votes within parliament. What is the point of having a vote if it means nothing? I think this vote does mean more than we realise, Cameron now as fair warning parliament does not agree with his stance. In fact the country is now so incensed at being dened the right to decide themselves he is in danger of giving the next election away to Miliband, and all the problems that will bring. I heard David Miliband last night on QT, and he still has the love in his heart for the EU, and would take us in given the chance, how do we not know his brother Ed is feeling the same. There was no mention in the debate where the electorate stood, except for one brave man in the audience who asked this very question. ‘Why not let the people decide.’ D Miliband did not respond.
    If Cameron had any real sense he would now bring the decision back to this country, and it would go a great way to ensuring another Conservative government come 2015. If he keeps refusing he will lose. Mr R, why his he doing this, and why is your party allowing him too? I despair I really do. We have Clegg assuming he carries weight, his speech convinced me he’s a fool, and the sooner this coalition breaks up the better. How much longer much we endure this situation, as each day passes this coalition is losing credance with the public.

  43. peter davies
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    As a first point I detect some real cynicism here by labour

    – I think that this to them was more a self serving opportunity to exploit weaknesses in the govt and try to create splits so they can tell us how unpopular the tories are and march into power to carry on their economic wrecking job. They don’t have any policies and when asked deep questions by any journalist can never give a proper answer – as an I saw Milliband looking like a rabbit in headlights when asked something specific during the labour conference, the truth is they squeal like pigs if there’s a cut in anything but don’t have anything to offer themselves.

    Secondly if the commons do vote on something, I agree with you that it must not be ignored.

    Thirdly it is the Treasury that sends money to the EU so they inform them in advance of what they are getting and send them that, end of. If they can in the meantime build alliances with other EU countries to ask them to follow the same approach, great, if not then cap what contributions to what parliament find acceptable and hurry up with this IN/OUT Referendum to get us out of the Asylum.

  44. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Michael Portillo on This Week was almost holding his nose at the prospect of giving the common people a say on the EU. He and David Cameron are cut from the same cloth.

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      He seemed quite clear that an in/out referendum would not be possible for the UK as the populace was ‘EU hostile’!…..

      zorro

  45. Bert Young
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Dr. JR , It trust your reasoning is right . I am fearful – as many of your responders have indicated , that DC will be persuaded into a settlement that is not in line with the outcome of the vote . I don’t agree that the Labour Party chose the moment to cause a split in the Conservatives ; they have always had their Eurosceptics and the motion was their opportunity to express themselves . The mood of the Nation as a whole was cast and was on view for everyone to see .

  46. Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    As I understand it the government undertakes international and treaty negotiations under royal prerogative. Royal power is delagated to the Prime Minister, and through him to Ministers representing the UK at negotiations.

    Anyone who thinks we live in a democracy needs to take a look at our non-existant constitution.

    Reply: Yes, but Parliament can criticise, advise or amend use of the prerogative powers

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      This may be helpful:

      http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/treaties/practice-procedures/

      This part covers what would be a nightmare scenario for the FCO, where a final ratification had been deposited but then had to be revoked because Parliament refused to make necessary changes to our domestic law:

      “Treaties are frequently subject to ratification, acceptance, approval, or the mutual notification of the completion of procedures. In addition, multilateral treaties may be acceded to, which does not involve signature. The date of entry into force is determined by the provisions of each treaty. It is important to note that from the date a treaty enters into force for the United Kingdom, it places international obligations on the UK vis-a-vis the other party or parties. It is essential therefore that the UK is in a position to fulfil its obligations as from that date, and does not become legally bound until it has the necessary domestic powers to give effect to the provisions of the treaty; otherwise it will be in breach of its international obligations. Pleading insufficiency of domestic law is not, in international law, an acceptable excuse for failure to implement the provisions of a treaty.”

    • zorro
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      The poor old Government has to endure the ‘wise counsel’ of Prince Charles’s spidery handwriting on far too many occasions…..

      zorro

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      To David Ward

      The British Constitution is unwritten which is not the same as “non-existant”.

      • Vanessa
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Of course our Constitution is WRITTEN. How else would we all know about it? It is certainly not bound up with all the idiotic rules made by Parliament. It is based on Magna Carta and The Bill of Rights which enshrines our Common Law (an Englishman’s birthright). It may be old but, like the Bible, is fundamentally true and cannot be touched by any of those criminals in the House of Commons.

      • APL
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        Glenn Vaughan: “The British Constitution is unwritten which is not the same as “non-existant””

        It is not exactly unwritten, just not in one bound cohesive document. But perhaps Mr Ward was referring to the appearance that our own domestic politicians so often disregard our own constitutional practices and traditions that we may as well not have a constitution.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        It’s mostly written but not “codified”, being spread around various Acts without any attempt to draw their provisions together and order them in a single document which could be called “The Constitution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, plus there are accepted conventions which have not been written into law. But even in countries where there is a codified constitution that has to be supplemented and expanded and qualified by other legal documents.

      • Peter Brown
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        To paraphrase Louis B. Mayer. An unwritten constitution is not worth the paper it is written on.

  47. Antisthenes
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    It appears the dilution of democracy continues apace. Long have governments ignored the wishes of the people now it seems that government is seeking to ignore the peoples representatives in parliament as well. What is the next step the calling of MPs only to attend parliament when it suits the PM? Perhaps it would be a salutary action to do unto the PM what parliament did to Charles I. However it is not just the PM that is to blame for this crisis of democracy but the parliamentary system that has evolved over the last decade or so mostly influenced by those of the left.

    No doubt if the vote had been binding Labour would have abstained the opportunist hypocrites that they are.

  48. Ralph McHendry
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your analysis, Mr Redwood. Mr Cameron should remember the saying “when you’re in a hole, stop digging”.
    I don’t think the Prime Minister is an instinctive opposer of large bureaucracies. He seems to me to be a product of a new Conservatism that wants to chuck the baby out with the bath water. E.G., the drive to “compassionate” Conservatism. That’s nonsense which will piss off a lot of natural conservatives and give fuel to the Labour Party.
    The PM’s interests seem to lie with gay marriage and giving away taxpayers’ money to anyone other than people that produce the wealth in this country.
    I’m no right-wing fanatic, but I can see clearly that these matters are vote-losers.

  49. merlin
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Can a parliamentary vote be non binding?

    My answwer to the question is a definitive NO.

    I vote for John Redwood to be elected, I put my cross on the ballot paper , and John Redwood is elected. For me it’s as simple as that.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      However I regard that vote as non-binding and I am considering attending parliament in his stead.

  50. Jon
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    The Government misread that like a few things recently. Its the British people who give the mandate to the government not the EU. We know it will end up with a budget increase but don’t start the negotiations handing one over in the first place.

  51. matthu
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Firstly, thank you for voting FOR the amendment last night, John.

    But I am dismayed how many senior politicuians from all of the three major political parties have taken the opportunity to say how disasterous it would be to follow the will of the electorate rather than seeking to persuade the electorate about the benefits of staying in Europe (which they have never before bothered to do).

    Tonight I had to relisten to what Michael Portillo had been saying on “This Week” last night. It seems that everybody recognises now that the electorate are getting so angry about Europe (and our treatment by our own elected politicians) that no major political party is ever likely to risk a referendum on Europe. They know the answer to any question in favour of remaining in Europe will be “NO”.

    So they won’t risk a referendum, even if they all put it into their manifesto commitments.

    So in summary what Portillo is saying: you can’t trust any of the major political parties to give the electorate the opportunity to have any meaningful say on Europe because they don’t trust the will of the electorate.

    So I ask my Wokingham M.P. : do YOU trust any of the Conservatives/Labour/Lib Dems to give us an in-out referendum on Europe? If not, do we blindly continue to allow ourselves to be led by a political elite who pay so little heed to what the electorate want?

    For these reasons, I cannot support any of the major political parties: they have totally lost the trust of the electorate and by his actions Cameron is cementing that loss of trust.

    And don’t come back with a meaningless win on the budget if you have had to give away the rest of our rebate or anything else. It won’t wash.

  52. uanime5
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Unless Cameron can find a function of the EU that most EU countries want to remove his chances of reducing the EU budget are very low.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      That’s on the false assumption that all the functions of the EU are already being executed with optimal efficiency and could not be carried out at lower cost.

  53. Vanessa
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    There isn’t a hope in hell that Cameron will get his cut. The EU does not listen to one aggrieved member state when all the others are calling for more money, please. The EU’s accounts have not been signed off for about 16 years or so and the wastage is completely acceptable to them. Our money is going to suspect causes we know nothing about and can DO anything about. Cameron’s posturing is pathetic and, I agree, with John Redwood, a vote in our parliament by our representatives SHOULD ALWAYS be binding on the government.

  54. Terry
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    It seems, that our Prime Minister has more than the President of the United States of America.
    Yet, he appears to be without any power within the EU. He uses his veto and they manufacture a work-around, to combat it.

    Why is OUR country still shackled to such a devious and sinister organisation? They preach democracy but never practice it and that is definitely not British.

  55. Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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